On the eve of the frenzy!!

Joe Johnson's already fired up for the season. The free agency season, that is.

Joe Johnson's already fired up the season. The Hawks' free agency season, that is.

 

CHOCOLATE CITY -Joe Johnson learned a long time ago the value of a good poker face.

But when I asked him what he thought of all the trades before, on and during NBA draft day, his smile turned into a an eyebrow-raised stare.

“People aren’t playing around right now,” he told me Friday in a hallway outside of a conference room at the Hawks’ downtown headquarters. “I don’t know what’s gotten into everybody.”

Johnson better hope that the spirit to move has hit the Hawks as well with free agency just a couple of days away. Because life in the Eastern Conference playoff chase is going to be tougher than it was a year ago.

(Oh, and sorry for the delay on the new blog boys and girls, but I had a previously planned family gathering here in D.C. that could not be avoided.)

“I’ve been keeping up with every move that’s been made,” Johnson said. “The Eastern Conference has gotten a lot better before free agency even started. We’ve just got to do whatever we have to do whatever we can do to try and take ourselves to another level. Right now we’re making footsteps in the right direction and we just have to keep moving forward.”

Johnson said he’s heard about all the rumors involving the Hawks (Josh Smith’s latest is that he’s going to be sent to the Phoenix in some sort of package exchange for Amare Stoudemire, Mike Bibby’s not coming back according to all the experts now that Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague have been added, etc.). And he’s not buying any of it.

“I understand we don’t really know what’s going to happen in free agency,” Johnson said. “We never do. But this is a business, man. And this is the tough part, the rumors and all the talk. It’s just something we have to deal with. But this is the important thing people need to remember, we’ve gotten better every year with this group. That’s not easy to do. So that means by the time training camp rolls around we need to have hung out, worked out and done everything else it takes prepare ourselves. It’s all business when training camp comes around, because we have to be ready to not only match what we did last year but do better than that. And it’s going to be tough.”

MORE TO THE POINT, and that’s really the one question people have been asking me over and over again since draft night, in it’s various manifestations. Do we keep Bibby? What about Flip? Do we need that many point guard, and won’t they stunt the growth of the young fella?

Ramon Sessions doesn't appear to be on the Hawks' free agent radar anymore.

Ramon Sessions doesn't appear to be on the Hawks' free agent radar anymore.

Before the draft I had a short list of potential point guards (starters or backups depending on what happens with Bibby). By Friday morning I started rethinking the need for the list, what with two new bodies at the position in Crawford and Teague.

Then something crazy happened.

And I expected to see some crazy stuff during my trip here to Obama City, and of course, I did exactly that. From people watching on my way out of Reagan Airport to the hordes of tourists making their way in and out of the monuments and other venues, there’s never a shortage of interesting things to see.

So Saturday afternoon while my Pops and I were cutting through a backdoor to the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel (on 9th near C’town and my favorite spot to stay in this city) we saw Milwaukee Bucks restricted free agent point guard Ramon Sessions relaxing while talking on a cell phone on a patio. Had he not been in the middle of a conversation and had we not been trying to hustle off to where we were going, I’d have interrupted him and checked with him his future plans.

It ate me up the rest of the day. I wondered if this was a sign or something. What are the chances I’d see Sessions (or any of the other young point guards that highlighted my short list) during my first 12 hours here?

For a half-second, just a half, i thought someone was pulling a prank on me. I try and escape from the frenzy for a few days with the fam and who do I see on the patio outside of the Starbucks in the hotel but a restricted free agent NBA point guard that we’ve been talking about around here for weeks now (fine, I admit that’s a bit melodramatic, but … well, you had to be there).

AS FOR A POINT GUARD CERTAIN TO BE ON THE HAWKS’ ROSTER in training camp, Teague will be an interesting cat to cover.

For a guy that swore he was nervous on his first face-to-face dealing with the local press, it didn’t show. Teague’s got the perfect temperament for his new job.

He’s also  looking forward to one of the perks of living life on a NBA salary. Teague said he’s looking foward to getting a car. “I’ve never really had my own car,” he said. “It was like a 1988 Toyota Camry. The rest of my friends had cars in the 2000s. I went to Wake Forest and there I am riding around in my ‘88 Camry that’s not looking to good.”

Teague’s car search will be easier than most. He won’t need a ride to the Range Rover lot either.

“I’m a cheap guy, so I’ll try and go with one of those [Dodge] Challengers or something like that,” he said, ” That’s one of those that looks good but doesn’t cost too much.”

The bigger question for the Hawks is how much is too much to pay for Bibby?

That’s also a question that we can only speculate about between now and Wednesday.

FINDING THE RIGHT ANSWERS IN THE FRONTCOURT WON’T BE NEARLY AS EASY. Restricted free agent bit men aren’t allowed to disappear from the roster as easily as they might a player at another position.

There are only a handful of quality big men on the open market (free of restrictions. The Marcus Camby deal and others like it for quality big men, requires the Hawks pulling off a sweet deal with precious few tradable assets to work with).

Put the "Birdman" on the short list for the Hawks to pursue this summer.

Put the "Birdman" on the Hawks' pursuit list for this summer.

Since my point guard short list was shredded on draft day, I figured now was as good a time as any to toss this out there (listed alphabetically and keep in mind that all four of these guys are unrestricted free agents): 

Chris Andersen, Denver, PF/C – Size, check. Energy, check. Shot-blocking ability, check. I know this isn’t the Andersen you might have been thinking of adding to the roster (from what I’m hearing, David doesn’t seem likely to be on the Hawks’ roster when training camp opens). But the Birdman is a specialist the like of which the Hawks haven’t had in quite some time. He’s probably going to cost a little bit more than the Hawks are used to spending on specialists, but he might be worth the financial sacrifice.

Antonio McDyess, Detroit, PF – McDyess is still chasing that elusive NBA championship ring. Maybe he’s changed and is ready to tackle the task of helping a team like the Hawks reach for that big trophy. Adding intrigue to his summer is his relationship with Hawks coach Mike Woodson.

Joe Smith, Cleveland, PF – This isn’t exactly a home run move, but if you’re in need of a quality big, a veteran big, Smith would have to be vetted for the job. He’s become one of the league’s more reliable journeyman bigs. And not only will he play physically, he’ll knock down shots and sacrifice his body for as long as it takes.

Rasheed Wallace, Detroit, PF/C – The toughest sell on the list, Wallace isn’t going to come for cheap. He wants a sizable contract, one that the Hawks might not be interested in giving to an aged talent whose desire has been questioned by some. But he, too, has a good relationship with Woodson, which could potentially open the door long enough for the Hawks to get in the mix.

TWITTER ME THIS, TWITTER ME THAT … 

We’ve officially set up an after hours spot for this blog on Twitter (where the free agency updates will be shorter and more frequent, depending on what’s going on). Dig in for free agency folks, it should be bonkers.

 

456 comments Add your comment

Clyde

June 29th, 2009
4:27 am

ZaZa Peculiar

June 29th, 2009
5:19 am

If…you …keep…me…I…will..average…20.9 ppg…..12.1 rbg.
I..promise!!!

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE!!!

Elijah

June 29th, 2009
5:31 am

FIRE MIKE WOODSON

A Tribe Called Quest

June 29th, 2009
5:37 am

We have 4 free agents to resign and we need bigs.

Good luck, Sund

DrewCat

June 29th, 2009
5:47 am

Sekou what’s the status on Villanueva? Is he a restricted FA? Any word on Marvin’s negotiations? I could see the Hawks doing a sign and trade for a quality reserve big

BW

June 29th, 2009
6:46 am

I think we need Bibby back. You’re going to hand the keys to this team to a soft rookie out of Wake who shrank at big moments and the biggest gunner in the league (according to John Hollinger, who I rarely disagree with)? We should’ve traded up one spot for ty lawson – who will be a quality, legit point. This team is running in place – Fire Mike Woodson.

jdewayneatl

June 29th, 2009
7:27 am

This is what I’m hoping for now. Marvin signs an offer sheet to atleast play this season out. Re-sign Flip and Zaza for a packaged deal of about $8 mil. Sign Villanueva for something between $6.5 to $7.5 mil (hopefully on the lower end of that). Milwaukee has a few bigs stacked up for the possibility of losing him. The Hawks payroll would be similar to last seasons payroll but would be a significant upgrade.

Depth:

PG – J. Crawford, J. Teague, Flip Murray
SG – J. Johnson, Flip Murray
SF – M. Williams, Mo Evans, Charlie V.
PF – J. Smith, Charlie V.
C- Al Horford, Zaza

doc

June 29th, 2009
7:29 am

short list there sekou. what does the b big list look like?

nire, catch up from last blog. just was making the emphasis that with this lineup we need someone who can truly distribute the ball as well as make his own shot. without a pure point and that includes bibby with his present game, it would not hurt the hawks to bring in a guy like hedo instead of bringing back bibby for what may be the same dollars. i like what hedo did more so than what i have seen bibby do live and up close in playoffs. when you want to advance you got to think big and not stay running in place. if woody cant put it together then there are other van gundy’s out there or a flip who have performed with different types of teams or avery who has shown he can come close without a great point guard and has run an offense through the two spot of even through a big man.

bibby for 10 mil or hedo? i just dont know how low bibby will go to play here. me, i would be reluctant to pay over 6 mil over three years as it will mark he is to be backup soon.

i also realize this is only a pipe dream and nothing more. hedo will somehow end up on a team like the lakers to ply his trade that seems to be coming into its own. i wont go ballistic if it doesnt happen.

funny they are talking about bibby on 680 this am.

chuckw/deadjournalist

June 29th, 2009
7:31 am

sekou – the twitter link is broken. you have two http’s and no www; fyi.

Big Ray

June 29th, 2009
7:49 am

Astro Joe,

In response to your last post on last blog:

Your first paragraph was either a complete misunderstanding of the point I was trying to make, or you were being your usual self. Since I don’t figure you to be a moron, I’ll go with the latter. Correct me if I got that wrong. Either way, I’m not bothering with explaining this into anymore detail than I have already, as we are not likely to agree.

Not once have I asserted that every fan has to like what the GM does, and you are being facetious at best to even ask that question. Sorry, but I’m just not that given to hypocrisy. I simply am contesting your opinion. If you have an issue with that, I don’t know what to tell you.

I don’t need to read my own posts. I rarely contradict myself, paint myself into corners, or try to disguise straw as rhetoric. If I know I’m wrong or changed my mind, I freely admit it. I think I’m pretty clear on any issues I have with this franchise, as well as what I’m optimistic and pessimistic about, and why. I don’t have to go back and check up on myself to see if I’m talking in circles.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens. Perhaps you will get to be as pessimistic all season as you claim I am. Enjoy.

Willie Coyote

June 29th, 2009
7:57 am

If there is a deal out there that gets us Marcus Camby without us losing #5 or #15, I’m all for it.

Maybe the Crawford signing does mean Bibby is gone; if so then Flip has got to be re-signed. Keeping all of them doesn’t seem to be much of an option given that there are only so many minutes available.

Sekou Smith

June 29th, 2009
8:05 am

Thanks chuckw, I think it should be in working order now.

That list spells out the problem doc, there are not a bunch of quality big men falling off trees anywhere. So the Hawks will have to get creative if they want to get their hands on some. I didn’t include Zaza on that list since he’s already on the HAwks’ radar. But it slim pickin’s my friend.

CharlieV is going to be restricted, provided the Bucks extending him a qualifying offer. And the negotiations for Marvin haven’t officially begun yet (can’t do anything until July 1). You can bet the Hawks are dialed in on all four of their guys, at least in terms of wanting to jump start the process early. There’s too much work to be done to lay back the way they did with the Joshs last summer.

I hear you BW, but check back and see what Teague and Lawson did against each other head up, and it might surprise you. I don’t know for sure what the Hawks would have done at 19 if both guys were still on the board … I just know it would have been very interesting.

Big Ray

June 29th, 2009
8:10 am

Doc,

I agree. I wouldn’t want to pay Bibby more than $6 mil per, and not more than 3 years. Let me know what they say about him on the radio. Don’t get that station down here.

Well, add Joe Johnson to the list of people who think this team is headed in the right direction, I guess. Also, nice to see that he was reaching out to his new teammates.

siskel_god

June 29th, 2009
8:12 am

Sekou

What are you hearing about Amare being a Hawk? Would he be a better option than trying to get Bosh next year?

doc

June 29th, 2009
8:17 am

thanks sekou, hoped there would be someone or two serviceable enough on the b list. oh well. is there another rand mo d lister we can get? is solo on the list as well is probably one question to be asked? divided house on that guy or is he c list material?

yup, agree, “my boy rick” better be done with the feeling out part of his job and be ready to run with the big boys. he better not be laid back on this one.

Big Ray

June 29th, 2009
8:20 am

BW,

As you saw, there was pretty much a trade in the works for Lawson (he went to Denver), so we probably had no shot at trading for him. The Wolves only picked him for the sake of trading him, I do believe. Otherwise, they had no reason to draft a third pg.

By the way, Teague ripped Lawson a new one during the NCAA season. Take that for what it’s worth. Teague definitely needs to get stronger and work on various parts of his game. But he’s no smaller or softer than Mike Conley was when he came out. If I recall correctly, Conley measured out almost exactly the same. Let’s just hope that Teague is better at staying healthy.

Sekou,

Re-signing Zaza might be the simplest way to solve the big man issue. Or it might not. Replacing him won’t be easy, as you said with precious few worthwhile pieces to use. Trading for one will likely have to be with a team that is looking for some salary relief. Otherwise, it will be rather tough to convince any of the four you mentioned to come here, even with a raise involved. It depends partially on the teams they just played for, and how attached to them they are.

We’ll see. Also, where do guys like Solo and Othello Hunter fit in? Personally, I’d not exercise the option on RandMo, but that’s just me. I don’t see what he can or will do for us at this point.

clarkekent

June 29th, 2009
8:26 am

Sekou
could we get Donyell Marshall. I like him better than the 4 you named… good rebounder & stretches the floor with his 3pt shooting. I like the Charlie Villanueva idea but would he want to come off the bench or would he prefer to start. If starting is his preference then where does that leave Marvin? To me Marvin & Charlie are similar players but Charlie is a tad bit more assertive. But he will disappear in games too. What about a sign & trade with Marvin for a proven scorer. My thoughts are Granger or Rudy Gay… both would require more added to that trade but would pull that trigger in a minute.

Or do you move Joe to the SF pos. and let Crawford start with a resigned Bibby leading the team… moving Marvin to the bench or trading him.
Side note …hire Avery Johnson. I know you can’t say what you wanna say due to your job position but I know you are feel’in me.

Ric Roc

June 29th, 2009
8:33 am

Sekou,

For those of us unfamiliar with his game, how bout a scouting report on Jeff Teague?

mountain_jim

June 29th, 2009
8:35 am

What is Jack’s status? I would rather add him for PG leadership and defense rather than overspend for Bibby. I know we need more defensive and shot-blocking presense in the middle, but I don’t know who that should be.

bigdave

June 29th, 2009
8:44 am

is anyone else having trouble posting?
the blog is eating my post…

rainman

June 29th, 2009
8:44 am

Sekou, I have heard rumors that Camby or Chandler might be available in a trade due to their teams wanting to dump salary. If we made a move for one of these guys, what do you think we would have to give up? And if the Hawks did make such a move, how could they retain the player for more than one year — would a new contract have to be in place before such a trade were consumated?

OzinATL

June 29th, 2009
8:59 am

Hey Sekou,

See if you can find out more info about what the Hawks are doing with David Andersen. I read an article from back in Oz last week about David ready to come to the Hawks and play (not about money) but the current Hawks management are not giving him a definate answer, which frustrates him. BK had given him the word that he was to be a Hawk but subsequently Sund has been non-commital, except to say they don’t want to renounce his rights as they are worried he’d help another NBA team, but still are not sure about him in ATL – I don’t get this statement, either you think the guy can play or can’t.

Anyway, I believe he would help this team without a doubt, all the Hawks have to do is say YES.

doc

June 29th, 2009
9:05 am

ray the morning guys opinions are pretty much garbage, grain of salt stuff. peripheral fans of the hawks at best and not that knowledgeable to any depth when it comes to basketball. with that said they were not too inclined to offer much.

donyell is done, 2 years past his bottom. not sure he had a peak.

Dr. Warren

June 29th, 2009
9:15 am

BRING ‘EM ALL BACK. LET’S SEE IF WE CAN IMPROVE ANOTHER 10 GAMES THIS YEAR.

smartguy

June 29th, 2009
9:28 am

TRADE JOE JOHNSON FOR RICKY RUBIO!

and, of course, FIRE WOODY!

Anakin Joe

June 29th, 2009
9:36 am

Sekou, two quick questions from me (and welcome back). Do you know if/when the Hawks will announce that they have inked some undrafted FAs to come and workout with the club (e.g. Aminu or Siler)? And will the Hawks have a summer league team this year? I know that the economy drove the Rocky Mountain Revue out of business, but isn;t there another venue (Las Vegas I think) for summer league teams?

niremetal

June 29th, 2009
9:45 am

Max McGonigle

June 29th, 2009
9:49 am

Is there any truth to the Josh Smith for Amare Stoudemire rumors?

Clyde

June 29th, 2009
9:49 am

bigdave if you have a Fire Woody in your post it might not go through

Clyde

June 29th, 2009
9:51 am

What do June Jones and Woody have in common?

They both run the “Run and Shoot” offense

ha ha ha

Nookah

June 29th, 2009
9:59 am

There are some comments that are not even worth responding to.

Go Hawks!!!

DAVID

June 29th, 2009
10:04 am

Can you guys imagine a line up of Stoudemire,Horford,Williams,Johnson and Crawford? With a line up like that the Hawks could seriously challenge for the East possibly the Finals Goooooo Hawks!!!!!!!!!

MarkS

June 29th, 2009
10:12 am

Crawford cannot be a starting point. He’s way too selfish and a much better 2. If we’re not getting Bibby back, we’re going to need to get somebody else to run the point. Personally, I’d rather we spend some money on Bibby. This team’s going in the right direction.

mountain_jim

June 29th, 2009
10:14 am

I also do not understand why the Hawks keep spending 2nd round choices on non-US players but don’t ever actually sign any of them to play for them… I think they could use David Anderson’s size and talents, and they don’t have to trade anyone to bring him over. If it’s all about money, lets hear about that.

niremetal

June 29th, 2009
10:16 am

Sekou,

I still am curious – who in the East that is behind us in the standings (ie not Orlando or Cleveland) has improved? I’m quite serious. Washington is the only one that has made a big move besides Orlando and Cleveland (both of whom made VERY risky moves), and their trade was pretty much retarded.

Daniel

June 29th, 2009
10:19 am

Sekou- My understanding of the bird man is that he only wants to play in Denver. That his mentor and recovery are centered in that city. I dunno, money talks but he seems like a guy that is exactly where he needs to be. The only player on your list that seems likely and reasonable would be Mcdyess coming off the bench.
We still have decide on a pg, Za, and Marvin first. I really like the idea of keeping Bibby (at the right price of course). We give him two-three years which allows Teague to come along and become the future starter. Crawford is a nice piece, but essentially he is just an upgraded Flip. I do not buy into the notion that we have solved our pg issue, yet.

Daniel

June 29th, 2009
10:20 am

DAVID- that lineup would not be any improvement over last years lineup.

John

June 29th, 2009
10:21 am

Aminu did not leave Wake this year, so I that makes him difficult to sign.

Sekou Smith

June 29th, 2009
10:21 am

Talked with several people about this JSmith-Amare rumor. BASELESS. No summer league team this year, but the Hawks are supposed to have a mini-camp next month where they bring in guys and put them through the paces. They’re going to lose out on some good free agents, though, because they don’t have a summer league entry.

I’ve head those cats are available, too, rainman. Would rather have Camby than Chandler myself, mostly because I wouldn’t want to be locked into a big deal with a big that might no be the answer.

Listen, I’m not officially back on the clock yet (Wifey is giving me that “hurry up and get off that @&$^ computer” look, so we can finish our trip. Would love to answer all your questions right now, but I’ll have to beg for more time. PLZ!

O'Brien

June 29th, 2009
10:24 am

Sekou,

What about Brandon Bass? I know he is only 6′8″, but he plays with a lot of energy down low.

From your list, I like Rasheed. Sure, his desire is not consistent, but he could help slow down Dwight Howard and Shaq. Rasheed has post moves/turnaround jumper/3 pt range (unlike the bigs on our team). If he gets going, he can be a legit offensive threat, and he could draw double teams. And he can open up the lane by drawing opposing centers out of the paint.

Another benefit of Rasheed, because he is a former all star and NBA champion, I think Woody and the guards will give him the ball more than they would our current set of bigs. And I like Sheed’s swagger.

I like your list though, and I would be satisfied with McDyess, Birdman or Joe Smith.

Any news on Chills?

Sekou Smith

June 29th, 2009
10:24 am

Nire, did you watch Chicago in the playoffs? Do you seriously think that team won’t be improved from last year? Come on, man. Your Hawks lost Josh Childress last year and improved by 10 games. Keep that in mind.

OK, seriously, I gotta get out of here before I’m stuck in divorce court.

Dan

June 29th, 2009
10:32 am

Center Tyson Chandler or Marcus Camby
Power Forward Al Horford
Small Forward Josh Smith
Shooting guard Joe Johnson
Point guard Mike Bibby or Jamal Crawford

That would be Sweet !!!!

ant banks

June 29th, 2009
10:32 am

CLYDE, ELIJAH, SMARTGUY,
enuf wit’ the fire woody stuff!! y’all are killin’ me. LOL!!

SEKOU,
what’s up wit’ Gortat, from orlando? is he available? he was decent.

BIGRAY,
how much do you think that zaza will command?

niremetal

June 29th, 2009
10:33 am

Sorry, I made several posts acknowledging that Chicago was on the rise on prior blogs, but I know you didn’t catch those. They certainly could challenge. But them aside…is there anyone?

ant banks

June 29th, 2009
10:36 am

‘NIRE,

i tol’ you that the hawks are in a 4way tie for the 4th seed: 4.atlanta, chicago, philly, miami. we are not a lock at 4 but we will make the playoffs 4-6. probably meet bstn in rd 1

Jordan B

June 29th, 2009
10:40 am

The hawks need to let Bibby walk. Flip should be retained depending on his asking price. If Childress wants to come back that would be plus. I luv Marvin W. but the rumor about trading him for the Wizards to Caron Butler is a no brainer.

Jfreak

June 29th, 2009
10:44 am

If a trade for Amare Stoudemire can be worked out and that is a BIG if then the Hawks would be wise to make it! Josh may or may not turn out to be a great basketball player, but right now is above average at best. Amare is a star and a stud on the inside which is what this team really lacks. The downside to Amare is his health? Can he stay healthy is a question and a risk for sure. Also, how would having him on the roster effect Horford? Would Amare getting double teamed open up the floor for Hordford?? YES

Right now we have nobody inside that requires a double team but play in a conference filled with big boys: KG, Howard, Shaq and even Labron likes to play around inside too! Make the move or you’ll be undersized and over matched come play off time AGAIN!

jibby

June 29th, 2009
11:00 am

Amare has got to be damaged goods, we would be dumb to trade for him. His eye damage is likely permanent

Anakin Joe

June 29th, 2009
11:06 am

John, Alade Aminu, the older brother who went undrafted. Played for GA Tech. Obviously, not a great player (again, he went undrafed) but Hawks need to look under some rocks, especially for big men.

Daniel

June 29th, 2009
11:08 am

Why would anyone think that Josh Smith can play the 3 position? He can’t shoot well at the 4, and he is not a good on the ball defender. Playing Smith at the 3 is absolutely a horrible idea. Also, I don’t really see an upgrade in Amare over Josh. Anyway, that rumor is just worthless. So I will stop commenting on it.
O’Brien- I really like Brandon Bass, he and Za on the bench would really be a nice upgrade there.
The big questions that have yet to be answered is what the market is going to be for these players. Hopefully, we can resign Bibby, Marvin, and Za and still add one more front court piece, like a Bass or Charlie V. But honestly, It will all depend on how much point guards are going to get in the FA market.